Conspiracy theories don’t typically surround the NBA draft lottery until, you know, after the lottery. This year, the crackpots got a head start when Dikembe Mutombo prematurely congratulated the Sixers for winning the no. 1 overall pick three-and-a-half hours before deputy commissioner Mark Tatum took to the podium. The tweet was swiftly deleted, but the damage was already done: What did Mutombo know? Had minority owner Art Wrubel surreptitiously given him inside info from the lottery room? Did the NBA assure Jerry Colangelo he would have the right to draft Ben Simmons if he agreed to take over the most moribund franchise in pro sports? Would Sam Hinkie make it through the night without drunk-texting Philly’s ownership group another 13-page missive about the virtues of Robert Covington? The possibilities were as endless as the Sixers’ arsenal of draft picks.
As it turns out, Mutombo’s supposedly accidental tweet was mighty prescient — suspiciously prescient, some would say. The Sixers, fresh off elevating Bryan Colangelo to president of basketball operations following Hinkie’s unceremonious oust … er, resignation, made good on their assiduous tanking efforts and nabbed the top pick, as the entire lottery order held to form. The discussion will now turn to whether Philly should select the long-ballyhooed Simmons or rising Duke swingman Brandon Ingram. But first, let’s pour one out for Hinkie and his much-maligned Process, which finally delivered Philadelphians something other than a high-risk, medium-reward center.
For Hinkie, the good news is that if Simmons or Ingram develops into a franchise-changing superstar, the Process may enjoy a critical reappraisal not unlike the work of Vincent van Gogh or Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak. The bad news, of course, is that Hinkie won’t be around to savor the cheesesteaks of his labor. You win some, you lose some — and if Hinkie’s tenure in Philly taught us anything about life, it’s that losses generally outnumber wins.
So how should the Sixers’ deposed visionary cope with this stark realization? We have a few suggestions.
1. Take solace in the fact the Sixers will continue to be haunted by your ghost.
The highlight of the lottery broadcast was Brett Brown lavishing praise on Joel Embiid and Dario Saric — Philly’s pair of first-rounders from 2014 who’ve yet to log a single minute for the team — twice. This lends further credence to the theory that Hinkie spent the past three years hypnotizing Brown to sing the praises of the Process at all times. We can only hope that more evidence of this will come to light.
2. Relieve stress by writing a book.
A tell-all account of Hinkie’s tumultuous three years in Philly would be golden, especially if it includes details of any closed-door meetings with Sixers minority partners Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
3. Join an NFL franchise.
Paul DePodesta has opened the door for other statistically inclined executives to pursue opportunities in the NFL, and football’s lack of a draft lottery would better reward Hinkie’s commitment to shameless tanking. Can you say starting wideout Dario Saric?!